Stories and Traveltips

ID #1205

Camping at Inhassoro, East Coast, Mozambique, Southern Africa.

One November in the early 70’s Neville Reeve and a friend, Ben Eman, decided to go marlin fishing in Mozambique. Ben had a large (26 ft) ski-boat (fishing) with two Volvo Penta inboard motors which was towed to Inhassoro, on the Mozambique coast, by a large truck. The intention was to stay in a hotel in Inhassoro and to travel across the bay to Bazaruto each day to fish on its seaward side. While Ben and Neville were keen fishermen, Neville’s son Douglas and I went along for the ride.

Inhassoro is a tiny fishing village on the edge of a bay which is essentially a 25x25-km coral reef with Paradise Island in the centre. A Chinese fishing community lives nearby. Each day they row out into the bay with their nets. Fascinated by the creatures being netted, I was often on the beach when the nets were hauled in. The animals were quite unfamiliar – turtles, half-beaks, parrot fish, garfish – I could only stand and gape in wonder.

We usually went fishing at sunrise and spent most of the day at sea. By the time we got back we were usually badly sunburnt. Trying to sleep at night was out of the question – it was too hot. So, while I was young and very fit, after 3 weeks of fishing I was becoming tired of the brutal routine.

However, one incident finally convinced me to give it up. We had been fishing the entire day and, in spite of the fact that we were surrounded by bonito leaping out of the water to escape predators, we caught nothing. Neville and Ben were sleeping in their bunks having consumed copious quantities of gin and grapetiser. I was steering the boat and noticed dark black tropical storm clouds closing in on us. I mentioned this to the two of them, to which they paid scant attention. A few minutes later we were caught in a thunderous tropical downpour, with high winds and huge white-capped waves. The boat slid down the waves alarmingly. Furthermore since we could not see further than a few meters, we had no idea which direction in which to steer, merely going “with the flow”. I asked our gillie (navigator) which direction we should steer and he pointed vaguely in a particular direction.

There is a long spit of sand north of Bazaruto and it occurred to me that if we were to become stranded on the sandbank we would all drown. So I decided to check the directions with a hand-held compass. Sure enough, he was pointing directly at the sandbank. So we altered course and travelled north for several hours and then circled back to Inhassoro, arriving just before nightfall.

Douglas and I were fed up after this episode and jumped at the chance to travel up the beach from Inhassoro with a friend. While Ben and Neville continued fishing, we travelled north up the beach for about 10-km to a small island in a delta. We spent the remainder of the holiday camping on the beach and traveling to the island to explore. Interestingly, there is a channel north of the island where the Germans apparently refueled their submarines during WW2. We used a small paddleski to get about. When we traveled to the ancient marker buoys in the channel, I saw huge kingfish that were literally grey with age. I also saw a dugong sleeping on its back wiping its face with its flippers from time to time. Since I have never met anyone who has ever seen a dugong, this remains a special moment for me. We spent the remainder of the holiday camping in this magnificent pristine environment.

Moral of the story:

(a)    Don’t drink and drive at sea.
(b)    You don’t need to be equipped with all the latest gadgets to have a good time – try a minimalist approach instead.
(c)    Be willing to explore – you will find unexpected treasures in the most unlikely places.

Inhassoro is on the east coast of Mozambique north of Vilanculos. Alan McIver NFFishing

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Last update: 2014-02-28 22:28
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.4

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